Unexpected death, unruly protest
Published : 23 May 2017, 11:00
The premature death of a Dhaka University student at a private hospital, the subsequent vandalism there and Bangladesh Medical Association's decision to abstain from work for a day have left the nation shocked.
Soon after Afia Jahan Chaity died in the capital's Central Hospital on Thursday, around a couple of hundred of her fellow students vandalised several rooms and equipment of the hospital and kept terrorising the entire facility until police reached there.
DU authorities filed a case with Dhanmondi Police Station on charges of "negligence in treatment" accusing nine doctors and officials of the hospital. A doctor, arrested that night got bail later, while others were bailed yesterday.
To protest all these, Bangladesh Medical Association (BMA), meanwhile, decided to abstain from private practices across the country today.
It also announced that all doctors would wear black badges from 8:00am to 2:30pm till Thursday and hold human chain at noon on Thursday.
BMA will announce more programmes in protesting the vandalism and false case against doctors after an executive meeting on May 28.
It seems the association is oblivious to the sufferings an hour of human chain and a day's abstention from work would inflict on countless patients.
On the other hand, vandalism in a healthcare facility and the arrest of doctors before the allegation of negligence is proven are totally unacceptable.
What was the negligence and who would prove it?
Prof ABM Abdullah, who was in charge of Chaity's treatment, said Chaity went to the hospital with fever and weakness and was first administered a symptom-based treatment including rehydration, Paracetamol and some other drugs.
She was then prescribed some tests which found that the 20-year-old student had Acute Myeloblastic Leukaemia, a type of blood cancer.
"Her situation was so serious that she was rushed to the ICU," the doctor said, adding that ninety nine percent of her blood cells were affected.
At the same time, her skin turned pale and she lost consciousness, the professor said.
To start the treatment of a cancer patient, doctors need to consider a number of things including her fitness, blood pressure, sugar level and diabetes. In Chaity's case, doctors didn't have time for these considerations, he added.
DU students, however, told reporters that doctors, just before Chaity's death at 5:30pm, said it was dengue that killed her.
Prof Anwarul Islam, chairman of DU's zoology department where the girl studied, also told journalists that he came to know that his student was given wrong treatment.
The doctors have one version of the story while students have another. But, who is to verify this? Without any doubt, an independent medical expert team could help.
Patients or their relatives could lodge complaints with the Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council (BMDC), the licensing and regulatory authority of the physicians.
The BMDC, after investigation, could cancel registration of the doctors concerned if negligence or wrong treatment was proven. The relatives of patients could even appeal to the court for compensation.
In this case, relatives or fellow students didn't lodge any complaint with the BMDC. It was only assumed that she was given wrong treatment. Based on the assumption, DU authorities went to police who arrested a doctor.
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine found that medical errors accounted for over 9.5 percent of all fatalities in the US. no such data is available in Bangladesh.
A culture has grown where patients or their relatives engage in direct confrontation with the healthcare providers instead of going to the proper authority. It has been harming the doctor-patient relationship.
However, that doesn't mean doctors can hold patients hostage by halting their services and patients or their people can attack healthcare facilities.
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